Many people felt that they were honoring Gandhi with the high spiritual title of Mahatma, or Great Soul. He, however, found it a burden, if not a cause for worry. Always interested in individual empowerment, trying to rouse people from a state of feeling incapacitated to enact their own freedom through nonviolence, he was concerned that too much emphasis laid on his own person might actually disempower people. In other words, one might offer praise for what he did, but think that they are incapable of it, similar to the sentiment expressed by Dorothy Day when she said, “Don’t call me a Saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.”
He was showing a way forward in nonviolence of which the person, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was only an instrument. To honor or to show one’s love for him, he was convinced, would be to share the principles of truth and nonviolence by which he lived, including non-cooperating with him if one felt that he erred. This is detachment at work, and perhaps ironically, the sign of a true Mahatma.
How might you honor Gandhi by implementing some of his values and/or accepting criticism with detachment?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org